The Havamal, or the Words of the One Most High.

A poem from the Elder Edda, written in Norway about the year 800 CE. Reputed to be the words of Odin.

All door-ways
Before one goes forth
Should be looked over,
Should be searched out,
For 'tis hard to know
Where foes sit
On the benches before one.

Hail my host!
A guest has come in:
Where shall he sit?
In hot haste is he
Who has to try his luck
On snow-shoes.

Fire is needed
By him who has come in
And is benumbed in his knees;
Food and clothes
Are needed by one
Who has traveled over the mountain.

Water is needed
By the one who comes to the meal,
A towel and a hearty welcome,
If he can get it,
Talk and answer.

Wisdom is wanted
By him who travels widely;
Anything is easy at home;
He who nothing knows
And sits among the wise
Becomes a gazing-stock.

A man with a thinking mind
Should not boast,
But rather be heedful in his mood.
When a wise and silent man
Comes to a homestead
The wary man seldom makes a slip,
For a more faithful friend
Will a man never get
Than great man-wit.

The wary guest
Who comes to a meal
Is silent and talks little,
Listens with (his) ears,
Looks on with (his) eyes;
Thus every wise man looks about him.

He is happy
Who gets for himself
Praise and good-will;
That which a man must own
In the mind of another
Is less easy to deal with.

He is happy
Who himself has
Praise and wits while alive;
For evil counsels
Has one often got
Out of another's breast.

A better burthen
A man carries not on the road
Than great wits;
Better than wealth
It is thought at strange places;
It is the strength of the poor.

Better burthen
A man carries not on the road
Than great good sense;
No worse journey-provisions
Weigh him to the ground
Than too much ale-drinking.

The ale of men's sons
Is not so good
As men say it is;
For the more
A man drinks
The less has he his senses.

He is called heron of Oblivion
The one who soars over ale-bouts,
He steals away men's senses;
With the feathers of that bird
I was bound
In the house of Gunnlòd.

[This refers to Odin getting drunk from the mead of poetry that he stole from Suttung. ]

I got drunk,
I got too drunk
At the wise Fjalar's;
The ale is best when
Every man
Gets his reason back.

Silent and thoughtful
Should a king's son be
And bold in battle;
Glad and cheerful
Should every man be
Till he meet his death.

The unwise man
Thinks he will live for ever
If he shuns fight,
But old age give him
No peace
Though spears may spare him.

A fool gapes
When he comes into company,
He mutters or sulks;
All at once
If he gets a drink
His mind is displayed.

He alone knows
Who widely travels
And has seen much
What the temper is
Of every man
Who has his wits about him.

A man shall not send away the cup
But drink mead moderately,
Speak usefully or be silent;
No man will blame thee
For ill-breeding
Though thou goest early to sleep.

A greedy man
Unless he has sense
Eats ill-health for himself;
A foolish man's belly
Often causes laughter
When he is among the wise.

Herds know
When they shall go home
And then walk off the grass;
But an unwise man
Never knows
The measure of his stomach.

A wretched man
With evil mind
Sneers at everything;
He knows not that,
Which he needed to know,
That he is not himself faultless.

An unwise man
Is awake all night
Worrying about everything;
He is weary
When the morning comes
All the woe is as it was.

An unwise man
Thinks all who smile on him
To be his friends;
He does not know
When he sits among wise men
Though they speak badly of him.

An unwise man
Thinks all who smile on him
To be his friends;
But he will find
When he comes to the thing
That he has few spokesmen.

An unwise man
Thinks he knows everything
If he has shelter in a corner;
He knows not
What he should say
If men test him.

An unwise man
When he comes among people,
Had best be silent;
No one knows
That he nothing knows,
Unless he talks too much;
The man who nothing knows
Knows not of it
Though he talk too much.

He who can ask
And answer questions
Thinks himself wise;
The sons of men
Can hide nothing
That passes among men.

He who is never silent
Speaks too many
Meaningless words;
A glib tongue
Unless it has restrainers
Often does harm to itself.

A man shall not
Have another for a gazing-stock
Though he come into company;
Many one thinks himself wise
If he is not asked questions
And can loiter with dry clothes.

Wise thinks himself
The guest who drives away
Another guest with mocking;
He is not wise
Who sneers at a meal
If he prates among angry men.

Many men
Are kind to one another,
Yet quarrel at the meal;
This will always be
The cause of men's strife;
Guest gets angry with guest.

An early meal
Should a man often take
And not go without it into company;
(Otherwise) he sits and sulks,
Looks as if he were hungry,
And cannot talk.

It is long out of one's way
To a bad friend,
Though he live on the road;
But to a good friend
There are short paths
Though he be farther off.

One should take leave,
The guest should not stay
Always in one place;
The loved becomes loathed
If he sits too long
In another's house.

A homestead is best
Though it be small;
A man is master at home;
Though he has but two goats
And a straw-thatched hall
Is better than begging.

A homestead is best
Though it be small;
A man is a man at home;
Bleeding is the heart
Of him who must beg
His food for every meal.

A man shall not on the ground
Go a step forward
Without his weapons;
For it is hard to know
When out on roads
If a man may need his spear.

I never met a man
So openhanded or free with his food
That he would not take a gift,
Nor one so lavish
With his property
That rewards were to him unwelcome.

A man
When he has gained property
Should not suffer want;
What was meant for the loved
Is often spared for the hated;
Many things go worse than expected.

With weapons and clothes
Such as are most sightly on oneself
Shall friends gladden each other;
Givers and receivers
Are the longest friends,
If they give with good wishes.

A man should be
A friend to his friend
And give gift for gift;
Laughter for laughter
And lie for lie
Should men return.

To his friend
A man should be a friend,
To him and his friend;
But no man
Should be the friend
Of his foe's friend.

Know if thou hast a friend
Whom thou trustest well
And thou wilt good from him get,
Thou must blend thoughts with him,
And exchange gifts,
Go often and meet him.

If thou has another
Whom thou trustest little
Yet wilt good from him get,
Kindly shalt thou talk to him,
But think deceitfully
And give lie back for lie.

That is further from him
Whom thou trustest little
And whose mind thou suspectest,
Though shalt smile at him
And speak contrary to thy thoughts,
The reward should like the gift.

I once was young,
I traveled alone,
And missed my way;
I thought myself wealthy
When I another met;
Man is the delight of man.

Liberal and valiant
Men live best;
They seldom harbor grief;
But unwise men
Fear everything;
The miser always longs for gifts.

My clothes
Gave I to wood-men
In the field;
They thought themselves men,
When they got the garments;
Ashamed is a naked man.

The fir withers
That stands on a fenced field;
Neither bark nor foliage shelter it;
Thus is a man
Whom no one loves;
Why should he live long?

Hotter than fire
Burns between bad friends
Friendship for five days;
But when the sixth comes
It is quenched
And all the friendship vanishes.

Much at once
Should one not give;
With little you often get praise;
With half a loaf
And a half-filled cup
I got a companion.

Small are sand grains,
Small are drops of water,
Small are men's minds;
For all men
Were not made equally wise;
Men are everywhere by halves.

Middling wise
Should every man be,
Never too wise;
Happiest live
Those men
Who know many things well.

Middling wise
Should every man be,
Never too wise;
For the heart of a wise man
Is seldom glad
If its owner is all-wise.

Middling wise
Should every man be
Never too wise;
No man ought to
Know his fate beforehand,
Then his mind is freest from sorrow.

Brand is kindled from brand
Till it is burnt out;
Fire is kindled from fire;
A man gets knowledge
By talk with a man
But becomes willful by self-conceit.

Early should rise
He who wants the property
Or the life of another;
Seldom a sleeping wolf
Gets a thigh-bone
Or a sleeping man victory.

Early should rise
He who has few workers
And go to his work;
Many hindrances has he
Who sleeps in the morning;
Half one's wealth depends on activity.

Of dry logs
And thatching-bark
A man knows the measure
And of the fire-wood
Which can last
For meals and for seasons.

Washed and well-fed
Should a man ride to the thing,
Though he be not so well dressed;
Of his shoes and breeches
Let no man be ashamed,
Nor of his horse, though he has not a good one.

Sniffs and hangs with its head,
When it comes on the sea,
The eagle on the old ocean;
So is the man
Who comes among many
And has few spokesmen.

Ask and answer
Should every sage man
Who wants to be called wise;
One may know
But not another;
All know if three know.

His power
Should every foresighted man
Use moderately;
He will feel
When he comes among the skilled
That no one is the best.

* * * * [Missing text]
For the words
That a man says to another
He has often to pay the penalty.

Much too early
Came I to many places
And too late to some;
The ale was drunk
Or it was unbrewed;
An unwelcome man seldom finds the ale.

Here and there
Might I be invited home
If I needed not food for a meal
Or if two hams hung
At my trusty friends
Where I had eaten one.

Fire is the best thing
Among the sons of men,
And the sight of the sun,
His good health
If a man can keep it,
And a blameless life.

A man is not utterly happy
Though he be in ill-health;
Some are happy in sons,
Some in kinsmen,
Some in much wealth,
Some in good deeds.

Better it is to live
Than not to live;
A living man (may) always get a cow;
I saw fire blaze
Before a wealthy man
And outside was death at the door.

The lame may ride a horse,
The handless may drive a herd,
The deaf may fight and do well;
A blind man is better
Than a burnt one;
The dead are of no use.

A son is better
Though he be late born,
After a man's death;
Seldom memorial stones
Stand near the road
Unless kinsman raise
Them after kinsman.

Two are of one host
The tongue is the head's bane;
Under every fur-coat
I expect a hand.

He who trusts to his knapsack
Is glad when night comes;
The ship's corners are small;
The autumn night is changeable;
There are many weathers
In five days
And more in a month.

He who nothing knows
Knows not this;
Many are made fools by wealth;
One man is wealthy,
And another poor;
Blame not a man for that.

Cattle die,
Kinsmen die,
One's self dies too;
But the fame
Never dies
Of him who gets a good name.

Cattle die,
Kinsmen die,
We ourselves die;
I know one thing
That never dies,
The doom over every dead man.*

[*Doom, judgement passed by men over man = his name.]

Full stocked folds
I saw at the sons of Fitjung;
Now they carry beggar's staffs;
Wealth is
Like the twinkling of an eye
The most unstable of friends.

An unwise man
If he gets
Wealth or a woman's love
grows in pride,
But never in wits;
He goes on further in his conceit.

It will be found
When thou askest about
The god-born runes
Which the high powers made,
And all the wise marked,
Then it is best that he be silent.

A day should be praised at night,
A woman when she is burnt,
A sword when it is tried,
A maiden when she is married,
Ice when crossed,
Ale when drunk.

In a glade should trees be cut,
In a breeze row out a sea,
In the dark to a maiden talk,
Many are the eyes of day,

A ship is made for sailing,
A shield for sheltering,
A sword for striking,
A maiden for kisses.

At the fire shalt thou drink ale
And glide on the ice,
Buy a lean horse,
And a rusty sword,
Fatten (thy) horse at home,
And (thy) dog at (thy) farm.

The words of a maiden
Of the talk of a woman
Should no man trust;
For their hearts were shaped
On a whirling wheel,
And fickleness laid in their breasts.

A creaking bow,
A burning flame,
A gaping wolf,
A croaking crow,
A squealing swine,
A rootless tree,
A waxing wave,
A boiling cauldron,

A flying arrow,
A falling billow,
A one night old ice,
A ring-coiled snake,
The bed-talk of a bride,
Or a broken sword,
The play of a bear,
Or a king's child

A sick calf,
A willful thrall,
The kind words of a volva,
The new-felled slain*

[*In a paper MS of 1684 some verses are found which are not on the skin text.]

An early sown field
Shall no man trust,
Nor his son too early;
The weather rules the field,
And wit guides the son;
Each of them is uncertain.

Let no man be so trustful
That he trust
His brother's slayer,
Though he meet him on the highway,
A half-burnt house,
A very swift horse,
A horse is useless
If a leg be broken.

Thus is the love of women
Whose hearts are false
As riding on slippery ice,
With an unshod,
Wild, two year old,
Badly broken horse,
Or like cruising
Rudderless in a strong gale,
Or like the lame reindeer
On thawing mountain sides.

Now I speak openly
For I know both;
Fickle is the mind of men to women;
We speak most fair
When we think most false;
That beguiles wise minds.

Finely must talk
And offer gifts
He who would win woman's love,
Praise the shape
Of the bright maiden;
He wins who woos.

In matters of love
Should a man never
Blame another;
The bewitching hues*
That do not move the dull
Often move the wise.

[*Lostfagr -- so fair a to kindle lust.]

A man must not
Blame another
For what is many men's weakness;
For mighty love
Changes the sons of men
From wise into fools.

The mind alone knows
What is near the heart;
It alone sees what is near the heart;
It alone sees what is in the breast;
No sickness is worse
For a wise man
Than to enjoy nothing.

I tried that when
I sat in the rushes
And waited for my love;
The gentle maiden
Was like my own flesh and heart;
Yet she was not mine.

I found the sun-bright
Maiden of Billing
Asleep on her bed;
The happiness of a jarl
I thought worth nothing,
Unless living with that maiden.

And near evening
Must thou come, Odin,
If thou wilt talk with a maiden;
It will fare badly
Unless we alone know
Of such unlawful love.

I went away;
It seemed to me I loved
Out of my wise will;
I thought
I had won
All her heart and love.

When next I came
All the doughty household
Was awake;
With burning lights
And carried torches
That way of woe was marked for me.

Near morning,
When I came again,
The household was asleep;
A dog I found
Tied to the bed
Of the good woman.

Many a good maiden
If thou searchest well
Is fickle to men;
That I found
When I the counsel wise maiden
Sought to beguile;
Every mocking
Showed me the wise maiden,
And from that woman nought had I.

At home shall a man be merry
And cheerful to his guests,
Cautious about himself,
Of good memory and ready speech,
If he wants to be very wise;
A good man is often talked of;
A great fool is he called
Who little can tell;
That is the mark of a fool.

I visited the old jotun;
Now I have come back;
Little got I silent there;
Many words
I spoke for my good
In the halls of Suttung.

Gunnlod gave me
On a golden chair
A drink of the costly mead;
Ill reward
I gave her afterwards
For her strong love,
For her true love.

The point of Rati
I let make its way
And gnaw the rock;
Over me and under me
Were the ways of jotuns,
Thus I risked my head.

The trick-bought mead
I have enjoyed well;
The wise lack little,
For Odrerir*
Has now come up
On the skirt of the earth of men.

[*Odrerir = song-inspirer or vessel for the poetic mead. ]

I doubt whether
I should yet have come
Out of the jotun halls,
If I had not had help
From Gunnlod, the good maiden
Round whom I laid my arm.

The next day
The Hrim-thussar came,
To ask about the purpose of Har*
Into his hall;
They asked about Bolverk**
If he was among the gods,
Or Suttung had slain him.

[*Odin **Odin]

An oath on the ring*
I think, Odin took;
Shall his plighted faith be trusted?
He defrauded Suttung
Of his mead,
And made Gunnlod weep.

[*I.e. the Temple ring which, like the Bible now, was formerly used for oaths.]

It is time to speak
From the chair of the wise man
At the well of Urd;
I saw and was silent,
I saw and pondered,
I listened to the talk of men;
I heard talk of runes,
Nor were they silent about their plans
All the hall of Har;
In the hall of Har
I heard this spoken.

I advise thee, Loddfafnir,
Take thou my advice;
Thou wiltl profit by it if thou takest it;*
Rise not at night
Unless thou goest a spying
Or thou art compelled to go out.

[*These three verses are repeated at the head of nearly every stanza but omitted after this stanza.]

Thou must not sleep
In the arms of a witch
So that she clasp thee with her limbs.

She causes that
Thou dost not heed
The thing or the words of a chief;
Thou wantest not food
Nor the amusement of men;
Thou goest sorrowful to sleep.
The wife of another manT
empt thou never
To be thy ear-whisperer.*[*i.e. mistress]

On a mount or a fjord
If thou to travel wantest
Take thou good store of food.

A bad man
Do thou never
Let thy misfortunes know;
For from a bad man
Gettest thou never
Reward for thy goodwill.

I saw the words
Of a wicked woman
Wound a man deeply;
Her false tongue
Became his death,
Though he had no guilt.

Know this, if thou hast
A friend whom thou trustest well,
Go often to see him;
For with brushwood
And with high grass will overgrow
The road on which no one walks.

Draw a good man to thee
For the sake of pleasant talk,
And learn healing spells while thou livest.

Be never the first
To forsake
The company of thy friend;
Sorrow eats the heart
If one cannot tell
All his mind to some one.

Thou shouldst never
Words exchange
With fools.

For from a bad man
Wilt thou never
Get return for good;
But a good man
Will be able to make thee
Liked and praised.

Souls are together blended,
When a man tells to one
All his mind;
All is better
than to be fickle;
No friend is he who speaks as one wishes.

Not even in three words quarrel
Shalt thou with a worse man;
Often the better one yields
When the worse one strikes.

Be not a shoe-smith
Nor a shalft-smith
Except for thyself;
Is the shoe misshaped,
Or the shaft wry,
Then is evil wished to thee.

Where thou canst do harm
Do not keep from it,
And do not give peace to thy foes.

Be never
Glad at evil,
But be pleased with the good.

Never look up
Shalt thou in battle;
Like swine*
May become the sons of men;
Let no man spell-bind thee.

[*To Odin is attributed the power to make men in battle made with terror like swine.]

Wouldst thou get a good woman
To talk pleasantly,
And get delight from her,
Promise thou fair things
And firmly keep it;
No man dislikes the good if he can get it.

I bid thee be wary,
But not too wary;
Be most wary at ale,
And with another's wife,
And theirly
That thieves play not tricks on thee.

Thou must never
Mock or laugh at
A guest or wayfarer.

Often know not well
Those who sit within
Of what kin they are who come;
No man is so good
That a fault follows him not,
Nor so bad, that he is good for nothing.

Never laugh
At a hoary wise man;
Often it is good which old men say
Skilled words come often
Out of a shriveled skin
Hanging among hides,
Dangling among dry skins,
And going among the sons of toil.

Scoff not at the guest
Nor drive him to the door;
Be kind to the poor.

Strong is the door-bar,
That shall turn
And open for all;
Give a ring,
Or to thy limbs
Will every kind of evil be wished.

Wherever thou drinkest ale,
Take earth's strength;
For the earth acts against ale,
And fire against constipation,
The (corn) er against spells,
The spurred rye against hernia,
The moon shall be called on against curses,
Heather against contagious diseases,
Runes against evil spells;
The mould must receive the liquid.